When it comes to tenant-landlord relations, the question of what is normal wear and tear is of paramount importance. While state legislation differs as to the details of what constitutes normal wear and tear versus damage, we will just trace a few general principles to be considered when determining what is considered normal wear and tear in rentals.
Normal wear and Tear in Rentals
Normal wear and tear is the deterioration that occurs normally as the rental is used over the years. What goes beyond normal wear and tear is obvious negligence, carelessness, accident, abuse, or intentional damage to the premises or equipment on the premises.
What is ambiguous and not too clearly defined is the issue of cleanliness. When tenants leave the house dirty, not in a rent-ready condition, you can obviously utilize the security deposit to get the house back rent ready. What about the items that are more common like nail holes, paint scuffs, or maybe a small paint chip or something to that factor? We have to take into consideration the time that the tenant has been on the property. If they’ve been in there for a month and there are tons of scrapes and whatnot, then obviously they’re being rough on the property. But if they’ve lived there for years, and there are nail holes, and some scuffs and scrapes, and the paint is fading, that doesn’t mean that you can then take the security deposit and repaint the house.
Judges who get to rule on this definition get the determination and understand that there’s expected use in a property so that in time, nail holes are going to be placed and people are going to put pictures on a wall. They may even move the pictures to a different location to make that house a home for them. Judges also know that paint and carpets fade in time, and they don’t have a life expectancy of forever and that they do deteriorate in time.
Damage in Rentals
Now, what is considered damage? Clearly, a broken window, a broken screen on a window, a broken vanity mirror, a broken cabinet door that’s been ripped off, and maybe even a large chip that somebody dropped something heavy on wood floors can all be considered damages. It doesn’t matter if it was an accident or abuse, each is considered damage. Even a broken toilet seat could be considered as damage. It is very important to understand what constitutes normal wear and tear of a property because we’ve seen it numerous times where a tenant determines or think something is normal wear and tear, then they go and sue the landlord for excessively charging their security deposit. What could have cost you only a hundred dollars ends up costing far more to appear in court.
These are just some things to think about when it comes to normal wear and tear. This is a sticky subject, and it can be tough to determine because it is left for interpretation to an extent. If you have further questions or just simply need to run something by us on this subject, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].